ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Law and Society

In holding that advocates and lawyers cannot be sued in consumer courts, the Supreme Court has offered three reasons—the law was not intended to apply to professionals, lawyers are sui generis professionals, and lawyers actually are in a contract of service with their clients. This column brings attention to the contradictory approach of the Court on this matter.

India’s urban areas have grown manifold over the years and continue to attract migrants and economic investments. However, governance has not kept pace with the changing needs. The promises of three major national political parties on urban governance and cities are examined to compare the different promises of change being made in this context.

Maamla Legal Hai is perhaps the first show in India to sympathetically represent the lives of lawyers, judges, and staff at the district court level in India. In doing so, it makes us question some of the established narratives of the legal profession and the justice delivery system, showing characters who rebel in quiet and not-so-quiet ways.

The Supreme Court’s flawed and jurisprudentially unsound judgment in E V Chinnaiah (2005), which prohibited inter se reservations among Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, looks likely to be overturned by a seven-judge bench in State of Punjab v Davinder Singh. However, this may turn out to be too late to have any transformational effect on social justice, given the shrinking of the state.

The Supreme Court’s judgment cancelling the remission of the convicts in the gang rape of Bilkis Bano, while being a resounding victory for the rule of law, civil liberties, and basic decency, is also an internal rebuke of the Court itself. The bench is unafraid to not only overtly criticise previous benches, which had paved the way for remission, but also other benches which pay mere lip service to constitutional values while acting contrary to the same.

In its judgment upholding the constitutional validity of the abrogation of Article 370, the Supreme Court makes two claims: a historical one arguing that Article 370 was meant to be “temporary” and an interpretive one arguing that Article 370’s text allowed its unilateral abrogation by the President of India. This column examines the two claims made in the judgment, looking to see if a firm basis for either is made out.

Notwithstanding the Supreme Court of India’s judgment decriminalising the offence of adultery in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Parliamentary Standing Committee examining the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 has demanded its reintroduction as a criminal offence. Not only is the move regressive, but it also completely misunderstands the reason why the Supreme Court deemed the criminalisation of adultery unconstitutional.

The Bihar Caste-based Survey and the constitutional amendment guaranteeing reservation for women in Parliament bring the question of delimitation to the fore once again. In the absence of immediate delimitation, these two events show that the under-represented communities and sections of society will only continue to remain unrepresented.

Ostensibly to decolonise and modernise India’s criminal justice system, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (which attempts to replace the Indian Penal Code) has been criticised for retaining much of the colonial language and approach that the IPC did. One of those areas is in relation to the law governing abortions in India, but the bill still presents an opportunity to modernise it.

While same-sex marriage should be rightfully recognised under the Special Marriage Act, a move towards its recognition under the Hindu Marriage Act also calls for the right to ancestral property and caste capital. This move consolidates caste–class solidarities of upper-caste queers as it fails to challenge the endogamous family structure.

Platform economy promotes flexibility and assures autonomy to the workers. With a rapid increase in digitally mediated platforms to govern the world of work, we often overlook the legal existence of workers’ employment status. Around the world, the highest courts are making concerted efforts to re-evaluate the core aspects of the criteria traditionally used to distinguish between employees and the self-employed. However, the judicially interpreted test for employee status determination often provides mixed results. This article, while providing an overview, advocates for using organisational integration tests instead of supervision and control tests to determine the legal employment status of platform workers.

The Madras High Court’s dominant imaginaries of the contested space as a “public road” and the fish vendors as “encroachers” overlook the complexities and alternative imaginaries of the space as Nochikuppam and the fishing community as “original inhabitants” who has the rightful claim to indigeneity.

Rights-based welfare legislation, even if passed by the union government, needs implementation at the state level. State governments are not passive implementation agencies and have sometimes stymied the effective implementation of such laws. Three recent examples show the need to better imagine social welfare laws within the context of a federal framework to ensure effective implementation.

Even as debates rage over the threats to the independence of the judiciary, it is necessary to focus on the other institution keeping the judicial system going—the bar—specifically that part of the legal profession which largely practises in the courts. The bar being the source of appointments to judges at the high court and who then go on to become Supreme Court judges, concerns have recently emerged on its independence as well.

Some of India’s largest cities with a population of a little more or less than one crore, have gone without a municipal government for several years. This is another key failing of the 74th amendment to the Constitution—the lack of provisions ensuring that urban governance can be carried out without state government interference. This article uses the example of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to highlight some of the problems with the constitutional provisions relating to urban local bodies and the inconsistent intervention by the courts.